New Western Cape water plan seeks sustainable use

A new Western Cape water plan is likely to affect land users and municipalities alike. The Integrated Water Resource Management Action Plan for the province was recently signed off by the Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) MEC Anton Bredell. The plan is now being assessed by Cabinet, before its final approval.

The development of the plan started at the end of 2010. It has been driven by DEADP, in conjunction with the National Department of Water Affairs and the Provincial Department of Agriculture, among others.

The new plan aims to address a number of challenges facing the province’s water resources, including the lack of water supply in some areas. The department warned that building new water infrastructure could cost billions of rands. At the same time, natural weather events, often attributed to climate change, have also proven costly.

According to department’s Catherine Bill at the Overberg Integrated Conservation Group meeting, held in Bredasdorp in August, the plan will highlight 46 action areas. This includes developing river maintenance and management plans which would enforce flood-line controls, while seeking to re-establish riparian zones. Water conservation and demand management is also emphasised. Opportunities will be assessed to improve irrigation techniques on agricultural land, while monitoring water use.

She said, “Landowners are in many cases already using water efficiently. But because the agricultural sector is such a big water user, there could be opportunities to become even better at it.”

Municipalities will also need to develop implementation plans for water conservation and demand strategies. These plans would include metering and gazetting relevant regulations on water efficiency.

Bill said it became clear that water legislation needed to be updated. “A lot of people felt that reform was required, and that processes needed to be integrated.” She said the plan identified the priority activities to focus on, including the sustainable use of water resources, and effective monitoring of water use.



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